MANILA—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed on Sunday that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists kidnapped seven Indonesian sailors last June 22.
The incident took place at 11 a.m. on the Indonesian side of the Sulu Sea.
“Information from ground units suggests that the kidnap victims are possibly being held somewhere in Sulu. Joint Task Group is now assessing the situation and will plan for the best course of action to address the given situation,” AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.
It was the third time this year that Indonesian sailors had been abducted in the Sulu Sea. The first incident took place in April while the second one occurred in May.
All victims are crew members of slow-moving tugboats and barges carrying coal and other trading items in the southern Philippines.
Defense ministers of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia met earlier this week to explore the possibility of conducting trilateral air and maritime patrols in common areas of concerns, especially the Sulu Sea, in a bid to stop the ASG and other security threats from using the area as their staging ground for further kidnapping attacks.